gbsteve (gbsteve) wrote,


Josh Newman has started a discussion list for stories around the themes of Shock, his game of Social Science fiction. I started to write a story there but then realised that it's not really the type of thing he's after. It's a bit too fluffy and not so much about the human condition. So I've posted it here instead. It's pure nostalgia for me.

Sonia pulled the envelope from out of her bag and carefully slid the contents on to the table. The small plastic case was clearly visible inside the bubblewrap. Sonia unconciously started to fiddle with her hair, wrapping it round her finger and sucking on the ends. Plastic! That certainly dated it to the last century, certainly before bioplas. With any luck ...

She slid the case halfway from the bubblewrap, stopped to wipe it's warm surface with her sleeve and tipped the box the rest of the way out. It sat there quietly on the table. It didn't even hum. The case felt hard and rough to touch. No leakage or anything from whatever was inside. Either that meant it was a piece of junk, or truely a dumb old piece of timeware.

She sat there and looked at it, moving her eyes level with the tabletop so that the black case filled her whole field of vision. She'd decided not to vlog this live but she was certainly recording. There were still pleasures in being first, or at least the first for a very long time. She pushed the hair back from her eyes. The vlog would edit it out later but she wanted to make sure she didn't miss a thing.

Not having found any jacks with her fingertips, she decided that it must be a manual system and ran her fingers over it again until she found the seam, and, at one end, the catch. She tried to prise it open but it was stiff and hurt her fingers. One of her nailjacks was chipped and the circuitry could be seen underneath. Momentarily, before the regrow kicked in. A boost of ibufropen and adrenaline took care of the pain and gave a bit more power to her grip.

Sonia wrenched the catch open and the contents of the case shot across the room. Reflexes sped up and she boosted to 4,000 fps, panning across the parabola of the smaller box that was inside the first as it glinted under the bright lights of her room. She reached out and caught it before it hit the plascreen.

Obviously engineering was a little more primitive back then. No feedback control, no Meet'n'Greet, not even a blipvert. Just a palm sized silent black box. The decoration was kind of cute though, hundreds of tiny retrosymbols and a red viewport. Sonia peered in but it seem pretty dark in there. Her metrics told her that it was powered down and although she found a small compartment in the back, none of her hydrocells fitted it. She was starting to feel just a little dejected. She'd paid 15,000ms for this piece of sh.. the house came on line and informed her that it had googled up an induction rig that would do the trick.


She placed the box in the rig and as sure as sure, the viewport displayed a ... Well she wasn't sure. She'd heard these old devices needed boot time but this one just sat there with what looked like some kind of Swedish on its display. Or perhaps it was a zero, in some backfont. That was it, a zero. I am blank. I am ready.

Sonia pressed on some of the buttons and some more numbers appeared. They didn't seem to do much and after a while she found that she couldn't make any more appear. She found that some of the smaller keys changed the numbers, perhaps performing some kind of program. Some kind of PROGRAM!

Wow! This was the big time. If only she could get at the memory banks directly. Who knows who might have composed this, Gates, Torvalds, Jobs ... anyone of the greats.

With the Hall-FX in her fingers working over time, Sonia trawled through every crummy piece of memory she could find. There wasn't much, the trace was faint. But, but, what a piece. A zen-like monument to the grace and style of the ancients. Finally! She had just the piece for karaoke on Friday.

00 86 0 LBL 0
01 32 0 STO 0
02 32 1 STO 1
03 33 2 RCL 2
04 39 0 PRD 0
05 33 3 RCL 3
06 34 0 SUM 0
07 33 1 RCL 1
08 39 0 PRD 0
09 33 4 RCL 4
10 34 0 SUM 0
11 33 1 RCL 1
12 39 0 PRD 0
13 33 5 RCL 5
14 34 0 SUM 0
15 33 1 RCL 1
16 39 0 PRD 0
17 33 6 RCL 6
18 34 0 SUM 0
19 33 7 RCL 7
20 45 ÷
21 33 1 RCL 1
22 85 =
23 34 0 SUM 0
24 05 5
25 38 0 EXC 0
26 86 1 LBL 1
27 45 ÷
28 01 1
29 34 1 SUM 1
30 33 1 RCL 1
31 56 DSZ
32 51 1 GTO 1
32 55 ×
33 83 .
34 05 5
35 34 1 SUM 1
36 33 1 RCL 1
37 23 0 STO 0
38 35 yx
39 05 5
40 -34 1 INV SUM 1
42 33 1 RCL 1
43 45 ÷
44 33 0 RCL 0
45 -13 INV lnx
46 85 =
47 -61 INV SBR

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